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Protect Your Older Loved One from Scams

It’s almost cliché to talk about being stumped on what to get for your older loved one who may, in fact, have just about everything, but there is one gift all older adults could use.  That gift is added security from scammers.  Why do I talk about scams and older loved ones as if younger people are never scammed?  Well, in the words of Willie Sutton who is alleged to have responded to a reporter’s question of “Why do you rob banks?” saying simply, “Because that’s where the money is.”  Older people simply have accumulated more asset wealth during their careers.  Yet, older adults may be disproportionately less tech savvy which can get anyone into trouble on the internet.

Here are some of the top scams you should be on the alert for during this holiday season according to the National Council on Aging:

  1. Everyone over age 65 is eligible for Medicare – and it is still open enrollment season. So, warn mom or dad about scammers on the internet who may pose as Medicare representatives in order to hijack social security numbers or other personal information.
  2. I always say that in an age when you can Google just about anything…that is pretty much what you’ll find. That includes bogus prescription drugs.  An older adult on the lookout for better prices for their high priced medicines can fall prey to fake drugs.  The FDA has been investigating four times as many fake medicine purveyors than even in the 1990s.
  3. Fraudulent web activities can also be carried in phishing emails or pop-ups that have links to sites that will harvest your older loved ones’ personal information from their hard drives. Help your parents keep current with the latest security safeguards on their computers.
  4. We all remember Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and that was with friends and associates. Well, on any given day there will be a whole host of investment, reverse mortgage or retirement enhancement schemes.  We are still enjoying historically low inflation which translates into very poor returns for retirees who depend on bonds and savings for supplemental income.  They may be prey to promises of higher rates of return.

And, of course, there are still the old standards like the Nigerian prince looking for a partner to help with his inheritance, the sweepstakes redemption scheme, the “I’m your favorite grandchild ruse and more.  So, this year, share a bit of security with your older and younger loved ones…and have a great holiday and a happy new year.

Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.


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